Posted on Mon, 2 Nov 09
Just reading about aromatic spices can remind us of smells and flavors; in fact, it has been shown that simply reading the word “cinnamon” activates an area in your brain involved in smell called the primary olfactory cortex. The name cinnamon is thought to originally come from the Malay and Indonesian for "sweet wood," coincidently this aromatic spice is gaining evidence to support its use for improving conditions related to poor blood sugar control including type 2 diabetes.
Several published scientific studies have investigated the potential for cinnamon to improve type 2 diabetes with most showing a beneficial effect (1-13). There is evidence to suggest cinnamon not only improves blood sugar control but may help improve associated cardiovascular risk, reduce cholesterol and mildly improve weight loss.
How cinnamon can help
People with type 2 diabetes have difficulty maintaining healthy blood sugar (glucose) levels due to a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone responsible for the transport of glucose from the blood stream into your cells so it can be used for energy. In people with insulin resistance, such as type 2 diabetics, the cells become resistant to the action insulin causing glucose to build up in the blood. This build up of glucose in the blood is one of the reasons why type 2 diabetics are at a greatly increased risk of diseases such as heart disease. Cinnamon has been shown to improve the cells response to insulin, reducing insulin resistance and lowering blood glucose (14-15).
Sprinkle on some spice
Cinnamon is very safe, inexpensive and can be used regularly in food or taken as a dietary supplement. Generally studies in type 2 diabetes have used 1-6 grams (less than a teaspoon) of powdered cinnamon daily. More research is needed before cinnamon can be used as a replacement to medications but in addition to usual care cinnamon makes for a tasty and promising medicine.
1. Khan A, Khattak KN, Safdar M, Anderson RA, Ali Khan MM. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003; 26:3215–8.
2. Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BL, Senden JM, Wodzig WK, van Loon LJ. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr 2006; 136:977–80.
3. Mang B, Wolters M, Schmitt B, et al. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest 2006;36:340–4.
4. Altschuler JA, Casella SJ, MacKenzie TA, Curtis KM. The effect of cinnamon on A1C among adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007;30: 813–6.
5. Blevins SM, Leyva MJ, Brown J, Wright J, Scofield RH, Aston CE. Effect of cinnamon on glucose and lipid levels in non insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007;30:2236
6. Crawford P. Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med. 2009 Sep-Oct;22(5):507-12.
7. Jitomir J, Willoughby DS. Cassia cinnamon for the attenuation of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance resulting from sleep loss. J Med Food. 2009 Jun;12(3):467-72.
8. Roussel AM, Hininger I, Benaraba R, Ziegenfuss TN, Anderson RA. Antioxidant effects of a cinnamon extract in people with impaired fasting glucose that are overweight or obese. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Feb;28(1):16-21.
9. Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Changes in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity following 2 weeks of daily cinnamon ingestion in healthy humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Apr;105(6):969-76.
10. Ziegenfuss TN, Hofheins JE, Mendel RW, Landis J, Anderson RA. Effects of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on body composition and features of the metabolic syndrome in pre-diabetic men and women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Dec 28;3:45-53.
11. Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Effects of short-term cinnamon ingestion on in vivo glucose tolerance. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Nov;9(6):895-901.
12. Baker WL, Gutierrez-Williams G, White CM, Kluger J, Coleman CI. Effect of cinnamon on glucose control and lipid parameters. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jan;31(1):41-3.
13. Suppapitiporn S, Kanpaksi N, Suppapitiporn S. The effect of cinnamon cassia powder in type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Med Assoc Thai. 2006 Sep;89 Suppl 3:S200-5.
14. Kim W, Khil LY, Clark R, Bok SH, Kim EE, Lee S, Jun HS, Yoon JW. Naphthalenemethyl ester derivative of dihydroxyhydrocinnamic acid, a component of cinnamon, increases glucose disposal by enhancing translocation of glucose transporter 4. Diabetologia. 2006 Oct;49(10):2437-48.
15. Sheng X, Zhang Y, Gong Z, Huang C, Zang YQ. Improved Insulin Resistance and Lipid Metabolism by Cinnamon Extract through Activation of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors. PPAR Res. 2008;2008:581348.